Canada to Remove PCR Testing Entry Requirement for Fully Vaccinated Travellers

Canada to Remove PCR Testing Entry Requirement for Fully Vaccinated Travellers
Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 10, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Justin Tang)
Isaac Teo

Canada will drop its pre-arrival COVID-19 PCR test requirement for fully vaccinated travellers starting Feb. 28, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced today.

Duclos said at a press conference on Feb. 15 that fully vaccinated travellers will still be required to take a pre-arrival test, but it can now be a rapid antigen test, as long as it’s lab-administered. Travellers may also still be randomly selected for a PCR test upon arrival.

“Fully vaccinated travellers who are selected under the mandatory randomized testing regime will no longer be required to quarantine while awaiting test results,” he said.

Duclos said the antigen test must be approved by the country they are coming from, and travellers must take the test no more than 24 hours before their scheduled flight or arrival at the border. For those opting to take a molecular PCR test, it must be conducted no less than 72 hours prior to arrival.

The health minister added that the restrictions imposed on children under 12 who are not fully vaccinated but are travelling with fully vaccinated adults, will also be lifted.

“This means they will no longer need to wait and self isolate before attending schools, daycare or day camps,” he said. “They will also no longer be subject to testing and other specific requirements.”

Duclos said the decision comes as the Omicron variant has passed peak transmission levels, the country has high vaccination rates, and there are “multiple tools at our disposal” to manage the pandemic.

For unvaccinated travellers, the minister said they will continue to be tested upon arrival and must quarantine for 14 days. They will also need to conduct a test on day eight of their quarantine.

Canada will also adjust its travel health notice from level 3 to level 2, which means the federal government will no longer recommend Canadians avoid all travel for non-essential purposes.

Likewise, international flights arriving in Canada will be permitted to land at all remaining Canadian airports by the end of the month, said the Public Health Agency of Canada in a press release on Feb. 15.

Duclos stressed that the new measures are only transitory and may change anytime.

“The border measures I have just outlined are transitory measures, not permanent ones,” he said, noting “all measures are subject to constant revaluation.”